You’re in a job interview. Not just any job interview – the best interview of your life.You’re nervous and excited and everything’s going perfectly. The interviewer fawns over your credentials. From the sound of it – you’re a rock star, an astronaut, a Hollywood movie star…of talent!
Then it’s time to talk compensation and salary.
“It’s a tough economy out there,” the interviewer says, looking away. “We can’t afford to pay you what your asking.”
You’re no longer a rock star – you’re a little kid asking your dad for some pocket money. It’s a terrible feeling.
You swallow hard, confidence grinding to a halt. You mutter some bland form of compliance. Oh well. you can always try for a raise in the future, right? You take the offer.
Big mistake. You’ve just been duped. Here’s where you could have made some changes:
Talk Salary Now: While compensation is always a touchy subject, it’s best to negotiate a higher salary before you’re hired. By lowering your standards straight from the get-go, you’re limiting your earning potential further down the line. Companies play a game with salary up until the last minute – they give ranges ($60-$90k for example.) Nothing says you can’t do the same. By locking yourself into a hard number too early in the interview process, you might be selling yourself short.
If you’re working with a recruiter, make sure to inform them of your required salary range. Be flexible, but push for what you want. A recruiter needs to know how serious your needs are – this should automatically steer you away from weaker job offers.
Be assertive: Accepting a job offer you’re unhappy with is a sure way to end up miserable at work. At best, you’ll harbor a secret animosity for your job until it affects your work performance. At worst, it’ll boil over in some other serious way.
Don’t underestimate your influence during the interview. Quality candidates have a serious amount of clout. Be polite, yet confident in your rejection of the company’s compensation package. Immediately followup with an alternative proposition.
Have your rebuttal ready: Explain your grievances and specific needs. Your stance should include multiple well thought out counter-offers. Point to areas of experience or expertise that would warrant further compensation. Your explanation should be brief and compelling. Make sure you have a deep understanding of current market rates for your experience and expertise.
Be prepared…for the outcome: Whether you win or lose, negotiations seldom break down into hard feelings. Rather, it’s more likely some common ground will be met – and agreed upon. A salary requirement doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Re-evaluate whats important to you and your life and think about your long term goals.
Negotiating salary is a gut wrenching process, but if you wait, it may be too late. Looking for a raise long after you’ve lost your novelty charm may cost you. Your golden opportunity may have passed on to new hires who took the initiate to negotiate head on. So take a chance right off the bat and make yourself heard.